Last week, I was sitting on a plane, Silicon Valley-bound, and trying to get past Chapter 7 of Stephen Hawking’s “Universe in a Nutshell” (embarrassingly, for the third time in my life), when my seatmate introduced himself and asked what I did for a living. Inevitably, the “Who are you and what do you do?” conversation creeps into every flight I take and inevitably, I’m on the receiving end of questioning looks…
“I work for a fax technology company,” I replied.
No response from my seatmate. Only a raised eyebrow.
This is the part I’ve become accustomed to – the part where the person looks at me sympathetically as though I’m headed for the unemployment line or even worse, they take on that patronizing look of disbelief – “Hey! 1995 called and they want their fax back!” And I get it – I really do! As an outsider looking in on our industry, it would appear that email has replaced what at one time was the most sophisticated method of electronic communication – fax. That fax is old, outdated, going the way of the Dodo.
Well, I’m here to tell you it’s not. In fact, quite the opposite. Fax is still relevant in business today but the reasons and methodologies behind why and how we fax have evolved.
In Hawking’s “Nutshell” he ponders, “Is there a complete, unified theory that governs every thing?” To date, he hasn’t found one and likewise, in business communications there is no single and absolute truth. Email works for some things. Fax for others. So what are a few of those reasons that fax is still used – and relevant?
One: Fax is more secure than other communication methods.
When a document is sent by fax it’s converted into binary code (1s and 0s), sent over the telephone network and then reassembled at the other end. Hacking into the telephone network would require direct manual access to the telephone line and even if a file were intercepted it would present itself as nothing but noise, making it virtually impossible to interpret/read.
Are you bound by regulatory and compliance mandates like HIPAA? Do you need to protect payment card information? Fax is the way to go. It keeps sensitive data safe.
Two: Fax is ubiquitous.
Fax is everywhere! It’s a sure bet that a company with whom you need to communicate has the ability to send and receive a fax. As much as everyone thought encrypted email and EDI systems would replace fax, no one standard has emerged to dethrone it. We hear from customers who have deployed EDI and encrypted email but are challenged because many of the companies with whom they do business don’t have the necessary software on their end to receive those documents. But I guarantee, they have the ability to receive a fax.
Three: Fax is simple.
Enter a number, hit send. Need I say more?
And that, in a nutshell, is why fax is still relevant.